Billingham Stars’ coaching team of Michael Bowman, Richie Thornton and Terry Ward will be back in charge of the NIHL North outfit for a fourth season.
The Teessiders are aiming to bounce back from a relatively disappointing 2015/2016 season that saw them miss out on the Moralee D1 play-offs, although they did win the Northern Cup.
“I’m not too sure what happened last season really, but I think complacency was a big factor in us missing out on the play-offs,” said Bowman (above).
“We went into a lot of games expecting to win and we were expecting to be in the play-offs, but by the time we realised it wasn’t just going to happen we had left it too late.
“We got it together trying to play catch-up and put some good performances in which helped us in the cup weekend.
“The ambition this coming year is silverware again and the play-offs are a must.
“I think we need to change our mindset and have more urgency from the start of the season and every game, we need to make things happen, not just wait for them.
“The league keeps on improving every year. I’m sure Blackburn (Hawks) will regroup and put together a strong team again.
“If Solway (Sharks) can start as they left off last season they will be right up there, as will our neighbours up the A19 (Whitley Warriors) who will look to improve again after their impressive season last year.
“I’m sure there will be no easy games. I’m really looking forward to making people forget what to me was a disappointing season last year by being at the right end of the table and bringing more silverware back to the Forum.”
It’s continued to be a quiet summer elsewhere in NIHL North, with just a handful of signings confirmed so far.
James Riddoch and Ollie Lomax have been confirmed as returnees to the Hawks’ roster, while Patrik Nyman and Nick Oliver are new additions to the Lancashire outfit.
In D2, Widnes Wild netminder Tom McDonald has agreed another season with the club. Young goalies Jonah and Ethan Armstrong have also been added to the squad.
Jake Nurse has signed for a further year with Altrincham Aces.